Saturday, 10 February 2007

Can we use fast food fat to fuel future vehicles?

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Could we turn all these millions of pounds of fat used every day in the fast-food industry into a type of fuel that would run all the millions of passenger vehicles on the road in this country?

If you listen to Oren Rubin, he says we can do just this. Rubin's plan to wean the U.S. from foreign oil imports takes one disgusting thing (fast food fat) and turns it into a slightly more sustainable object for many communities -- fuel.

Imagine that the deep fat fryers and waste oil containers in this country containing a large, untapped source of transportation fuel. This is what Rubin is pushing with his plan to build a national network of disposal centers to collect a substantial portion of waste vegetable oil and refine it into fuel.

The morals of some Doctors get in the way of unbiased advice

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Does your Doctor provide unbiased, professional and straightforward medical advice to you based on medical science and proven methods? Don't be so sure.

A recent survey on the views of physicians on controversial medical procedures concluded that some physicians have a moral outlook that influences the advice they give to their patients.

In one example cited in the survey, 52% of doctors objected to the use of abortion due to failed contraception -- and about 40% of doctors said that a 16-year-old would not be given a a contraceptive without parental consent.

How to stay lean when you're on the road

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Airports, airplanes, hotels...they just don't bring health and fitness to mind, do they? Whether it's the stress of traveling, the layovers, the cramped quarters, or the jet lag, for some reason it's just easier to go with the flow and eat what we want. Is it possible to travel most days of the year, and still lose a significant amount of weight? That's exactly what Peter Greenberg did. How did he do it?

Greenberg describes four trouble spots: the airport, the airplane, the hotel, and exercising on the road. By being knowledgeable about foods that fast food has to offer, he learned how to make better choices, or to bring his own snacks. At the hotel, he adopted the motto "eater beware," and learned to scrutinized the hotel menu carefully. And when it came to exercise, he dedicated himself to making sure it got done, even if he had to use his carry-on bags for weights. The number of hotels with fitness centers is on the rise, but his advice is to plan ahead and be prepared to exercise in your room with the bare minimum of equipment.

Though it isn't easy, Greenberg's plan proves that dieting even with the heaviest of travel schedules is possible. Do any of you frequent fliers out there have tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Fit Factor: Fighting Arm Flab

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I'm definitely more of a pear-shape, so I've never really given much thought to my arms when it comes to the whole fitness/body image thing. That is, until I started doing yoga about 2 and a half years ago and realized that positions that others can do with ease, such as downward dog, were a struggle for me because I was severely lacking in arm strength. After that, I began paying attention to my arms and noticed, with horror, that when I hold my arms out to make a T shape, I actually had these saddlebag things that wiggle. Ick. You know how wen daffy duck tries to show off his muscles and a section of his upper arm droops into a U shape? That's how I felt.

So, in the interest of cute tops and not embarras sing myself in yoga class, I've set out to make my arms as strong as my legs, which are toned from endless hours of walking, running and climbing up stairs.

Continue reading Fit Factor: Fighting Arm Flab

Daily Fit Tip: Plan a weekly menu

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One of the biggest hurdles to eating right can be organizational. If you plan your meals in advance and make a weekly menu you can get everything you need at the grocery store ahead of time and have it handy when it's time to eat. If you've got all the items on hand for a healthy dinner that sounds good you'll be less likely to defer to bad habits like ordering out or cooking a frozen pizza.

Some suggestions on menu planning are to sit down once a week, preferably before you go grocery shopping, and plan out what you want to eat for the week. It doesn't have to be a long process -- just think of healthy foods you like, aim for variety, and keep it practical and simple. And you don't have to be perfect at every meal as far as food groups go, just try to work it out so it balances out for the week.

Australian McDonald's gets heart foundation acknowledgment

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McDonald's of Australia recently got the unheard of endorsement of the National Heart Foundation when the non-profit foundation put their "tick" next to several of McDonald's meals. The red check mark tick indicates to consumers that the meal is a heart-healthy choice. The National Heart Foundation says that McDonald's alt ered their recipes, reducing sugar in their hamburger buns and stopped cooking food in trans fats. They also created new "value meal" type meals for the health conscious. The combinations include a sandwich or a few McNuggets, salad to increase the intake of veggies, and water or orange juice. By getting McDonald's to change some of their more unhealthful ways and by changing public perception of what constitutes a fast food meal (no more burger, fries, and a pop), the NHF feels the restaurant has made a significant step forward.

Critics say the fast food company, who is paying $330,000 a year to keep the ticks on their menu, is buying its way out its role in the obesity epidemic and is duping customers into thinking they're making healthy meal choices. McDonald's chief executive Peter Bush says, "...we want to be part of the solution to the obesity problem."

What do you think? Brilliant marketing scheme or genuine concern for the health and welfa re of its customers? You be the judge.

(via diet-blog)

Autism is more common than we thought

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The CDC has released the results of two of the largest and most comprehensive studies on autism ever, and the results are not at all what was expected.

Previous estimations of how many children across the U.S. are affected with autism were somewhere between 1 in 166 and 1 in 175, but according to this new data the numbers are more like 1 in 150. That doesn't sound like a big difference, but in reality it's huge.

Unfortunately, the studies won't help doctors understand how or why some kids have autism, but it does end the confusion about just how many kids need help with it. And with the number being so much higher than expected, now the motivation is there to focus harder on discovering just how to do that helping.

HIV lessons fun at Indian sex museum

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Sheesh. Safe sex lectures are so boring. At least that's the verdict in Mumbai, where the city's sex museum is giving HIV education a kick in the pants. The exhibit is so informative, that it's attracting hundreds of prostitutes and their regular clients.

The museum, Antarang, is the only one of it's kind in India, and lacks the pizazz of similar institutions in New or Amsterdam. Nevertheless, "A sex museum is a better place to learn about sex and everything related to it," says M.G. Vallecha, the chief of Antarang.

India has more citizens infected with HIV than any other country -- a number currently estimated at 5.7 million, that experts fear could quadruple by 2010. Officials are hopeful that the sex museum will work to combat HIV and AIDS -- allowing people to get over their inhibitions, and discuss safe sex more openly.

Tips on lowering blood pressure, without meds!

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High blood pressure in adults is something of a norm nowadays. Since we've got pills for just about everything, why not add another one in the morning to combat blood pressure? Well, when a doctor prescribes such a medication it would be prudent to follow through with the treatment. However there are some non-medical options you can explore to work alongside any meds your doctor may have given you. As this article featuring tips for lowering blood pressure te lls us, by complementing a doctor's treatment it could only help and may even lead to getting off medication altogether.

Of course the factors for getting high blood pressure are numerous. It can be genetic, so the only thing that can be done is medication. Blood pressure issues can also stem from being overweight or consuming too much salt. As we all know, exercise (or lack thereof) plays a huge role in our overall health -- so getting within the normal 120/80 value range is dependent on that factor as well.

This article hammers home the truth that lifestyle changes are necessary for making inroads in better health. Quitting smoking, reducing salt intake, exercise daily, and watching saturated fats are all among the common ways to combat high blood pressure (and other things too!). Check the site for more articles on this topic.

Brain scan reads your intentions

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Neuroscientists have developed a technique that lets them know what you'll do before you do it. Amazing, right? But the groundbreaking research raises ethical questions about how the technology might be applied.

For instance, what if brain-reading was used to interrogate criminals and terrorists? Could we really be close to a time when an incriminating brain scan could predict an illegal act before the law is actually broken? Should we arrest people whose brains say they'll probably break the law like Steven Spielberg's characters in Minority Report?

Ethicists say these questions should be addressed now, before surprised and overwhelmed by what these new techniques are capable of. According to Professor John Dale-Haynes, who led the study: "We see the danger that this might become compulsory one day, but we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence."

What do you think?

Can you find happiness on the Good Mood Diet?

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Does dieting put you in a bad mood? (One of the main reasons people give for quitting their diet is because dieting makes them "depressed" or's true!) Take a look at the The Good Mood Diet, and see if you can't eat your way to happiness and good health.

The basis of the diet is that its carbohydrate-heavy meals and snacks boost serotonin levels. Serotonin relieves stress, makes dieters feel full, and gives a person a feeling of well-being. With most diets today depending on lean protein to help keep dieters ' hunger at bay and help people lose weight, the Good Mood Diet takes its own road. The diet is divided into three phases. The first is meant to boost serotonin levels, while the second tapers off the high-carb foods to balance serotonin. The third maintains levels of the mood boosting hormone and whittles high-carb snacks down to one per day.

All carbs are not created equal, as we already know, and many of the carbs in the Good Mood Diet are derived from high-nutrient vegetables and fruits, though the diet's also includes daily snacks of low-fat crackers, pita bread, and other high-carb foods. I'd be interested to hear if any of That's Fit readers have tried this diet and if they got the results they were looking for. Anyone willing to share?

Go for dark chocolate this Valentine's Day

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There's been a lot of talk recently about how chocolate is good for you. But, especially with Valentine's Day right around the corner, you should know that not all chocolates are created equal.

Your healthiest option is the purest, darkest chocolate you can get your hands on.

The key is flavanoids. These are the antioxidants that improve blood sugar levels, reduce clot formation, and work to prevent cell damage. You'll find the most flavanoids in bars with at least 60 percent cocao solids. Therefore, dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate, and white chocolate -- while unspeakably delicious -- isn't really worth your time.

Every time the benefits of chocolate are brought up, it's worth mentioning that this doesn't diminish all the calories, saturated fat and sugar that you'll also find in your bar of sweet little goodness. In fact, just one ounce contains 150 calories.

On the other hand, it's a holiday, so if you splurge a little, I promise not to tell anyone.

Stuck in a rut? It might be doing you some good

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Contrary to popular belief, in many ways, being "stuck in a rut" can be healthy for you. Whether it's a simple habit like getting up early so you can relax with your coffee, or more complicated like a series of things you do in particular order before starting or ending your day, routines and rituals have been clinically shown to reduce stress and promote over-all feelings of well-being. Basic, comfortable "ruts" provide a sense of stability and calmness in an otherwise unpredictable and stressful world. As with everything though, it is possible to overdo it. When rituals become excessive, such as in obsessive compulsive disorder, they start doing you more harm than good.

So go ahead and indulge those quirky little routines that you love so much! And next time somebody accuses you of being in a rut, you can smile to yourself and say "yes I am."

PCOS: surprising news in treating this common infertility problem

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Here's some surprising news from the infertility arena -- a recent study has found that the old standby drug clomiphene (Clomid) actually works better than diabetes drug metformin for treating PCOS-related fertility problems.

PCOS -- or polycystic ovarian syndrome -- is the leading cause of infertility today. Among the syndrome's symptoms are obesity and insulin resistance, as well as irregular ovulation and menstrual cycles. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that women with PCOS who take metformin ovulate on a more regular basis, so for several years the drug has been prescribed off label to women suffering from infertility. The old fashioned clomiphene looked to be on its way out, but this recent study may put it back into the spotlight.

Women in the study were divided into three groups. One group took only clomiphene, a second took only metformin, and a third took both. The group that took metformin alone had a live birth rate of 7% while the group that took clomiphene had a live birth rate that reached 22%. Interestingly, the group that took both drugs had a higher ovulation rate than the other two groups, but their birth rate was not significantly higher, leading researchers to believe that all ovulation is not created equal.

Though the clomiphene group was more successful, their success rate was still only 1 in 5, making it clear that more PCOS research is necessary to understand this syndrome and its role in infertility.

Study finds doctors devote as little as one minute per topic to patients

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My pediatrician has a pretty strict policy: cancel your appointment 24 hours ahead of time, or be charged for the appointment anyway. She refuses to double (or triple) book patients -- a common practice among physicians -- and therefore expects you to be there for your appointment. The benefits are two-fold; we rarely have to wait more than 10 minutes to see a practitioner and we get plenty of face-to-face time at our appointment. Well-child visits are given a full 45 minute slot and I never feel like the doctors, nurse practitioners, or PAs are in a rush to leave the room. In fact, last week when my child's check up was compl ete, we sat and discussed nutrition for an additional 20 minutes. If only they saw adult patients too...

In any case, I've been lucky enough to find what I consider an excellent practice for my children. But as this article points out, others are not so fortunate. A recent study found that the median time patients got with their doctors was 16 minutes and that an average number of 6 topics were brought up during that time. The main concern of a patient was given the largest chunk of time, about 5 minutes, with the others getting 1-2 minutes a piece. Granted, some issues can be resolved or dealt with in a short period of time, but in more complex cases, patients were left hanging.

Continue reading Study finds doctors devote as little as one minute per topic to patients

Michigan students wear surgical masks to stop the flu

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If you visit the University of Michigan over the next month or so, you may notice something different about the students on campus -- many of them are wearing surgical masks. About 1200 students have signed up for the research study which requires them to -- at a minimum -- wear the masks when they're in their residence halls, though many of them are wearing them outside of their halls as well.

Dorms are the perfect breeding ground for bugs like the flu, and influenza hit this Ann Arbor campus last month. The students are divided into three groups. One group wears the masks, one group wears the mask and uses hand sanitizer, and the other group does nothing. Researchers hope to collect information about whether surgical masks prevent the spread of flu germs. In the event of a flu pandemic, with vaccines in short supply, surgical masks and hand sanitizers would be invaluable in stopping the spread...if they work.

Though some students feel silly wearing the masks and others don't wear them consistently, researchers say those quirks actually make the study more realistic. At a minimum, they must be a great conversation starter...right?

Video games designed for exercising mental acuity

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Although video games get a bad rap for causing kids to not participate in regular exercise -- save the newer Nintendo Wii system -- there are newer games that are apparently designed to boost players' mental health and self-esteem.

There is a new group of developers that have been inspired by the success of Nintendo's Brain Age title for the newer Nintendo Wii gaming system, which encouraging mental stimulation to put it mildly.

The result are game designs that get the ole' brainwaves working with math and word puzzles. First up is the title "DS Therapy" in Japan for Nintendo's handheld DS player.

Stop heartburn tonight

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In a recent poll, 8 out of 10 people suffering from heartburn stated that they're kept up at night at least once a week by their symptoms. This is a problem not only because of the obvious sleep deprivation, but also because when you're lying down your stomach acid can do more damage and increase your risk of getting cancer.

If you suffer from nighttime heartburn

Dieting for Jesus

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"When you love potluck more than God, it's serious."

That's the message from pastor Steve Reynolds, the preacher who lost 70 pounds thanks to God and low carbs. He's now on a mission to lead churchgoers into the new world of religious dieting. According to pastor Reynolds, "We need to take care of what He's given us."

It's not just Christianity. Faith-based dieting books are cropping up in Buddhism, Hinduism, and more. Many faiths already condemn gluttony, and today's religious leaders are putting contemporary ideas into practice to curtail over-indulgent lifestyles. For instance, Muslim doctors use Ramadan, a month traditionally set aside for fasting, as an opportunity for followers to lose weight. Jewish dieting books advise avoiding high-fat bar mitzvah foods.

So, I suppose -- to quote the title of a recent Christian-themed dieting book -- the real question is: "What Would Jesus Eat?"

Mad Cow disease re-emerges in Canada

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There are some folks I know that were so scared in recent years of the mad cow disease that they stopped eating beef completely. Well, that fears never goes away I guess, as Canada has confirmed its ninth case of mad cow disease since 2003.

Although that is a relatively low number, the latest victim in Canada died on a farm last week -- and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said that a bull tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease).

Although mad cow disease is not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things (insofar as disease), the consumption of meat products contaminated with BS E has been linked to more than 150 human deaths -- but mostly in Britain.